Mumbai-based Wefly Indoor Skydiving LLC, which manufactures axial fans for indoor skydiving equipment and is also into developing and promoting activities related to aerosports, has secured an undisclosed amount in investment from Hong Kong-based investment firm Swastika Company Ltd, a top company executive told VCCircle.
Amit Patel, founder, Wefly, said the funds raised will go into the fabrication and assembly of machinery. As part of the transaction, Swastika will get a 20% equity stake in the venture and Vaibhav Jain, director at Swastika, will come on board as a partner for the startup.
Incorporated in May 2015 by Patel and Shailesh Vinod Kocharekar, Wefly manufactures axial fans, which help simulate skydiving experience indoors. Subsequently, Kocharekar quit the venture.
Currently, Wefly is manufacturing a mobile indoor skydiving unit, which is essentially a 20 feet container fitted with a 600 HP (horse power) diesel engine that powers an 82 inch (around seven feet) diameter axial fan that rotates at 22,000 rpm (rotations per minute), generating a 200km per hour velocity that can propel a user up to 40 feet in air.
The unit, which is expected to be rolled out commercially next month, will be used as a means of recreational tourism that will make the company the first such Indian venture in the aerosports space. The firm has already struck a promotional tie-up with the Ministry of Tourism—as part of the tie-up, the mobile unit will make trips to six Indian cities, including Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, by March 2017.
“We are manufacturing this machine through a technology transfer from a European company and Indianising the equipment to ensure lesser turnaround time in case of a glitch or breakdown in the machinery,” said Patel.
An avid aerosports enthusiast with a background in import and export of medical equipment, Patel decided to foray into the space after he observed that such facilities were not available in the country.
In October, Patel will start scouting for the next round of funding for manufacturing the next version of the equipment where the axial fun will be isolated and the air flow will be channelised through a central duct system.
“We have already received initial inquires from a couple of potential investors that include some leading banks and NBFCs who have expressed interest in collaborating with us post the launch of the prototype,” said Patel.
According to Patel, there is a large opportunity in terms of providing equipment and technology to Bollywood movie shoots, training professional skydivers and armed forces, product launches, theme wedding, STEM education and aero-sports (sky boarding and aero-stunts), etc.
Wefly would also help promote aeropsorts in India. Patel is also trying to see if cricket stadiums in Mumbai can be used during off seasons for holding drone racing competitions, a recreational sporting activity that is fast gaining traction in the US and Europe.
Besides, Patel is exploring a franchisee model at a 70:30 operator to owner ratio to manage indoor skydiving experiences.
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